EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|DEVIL (director/writer: John Erick Dowdle; screenwriters: Brian Nelson/based on a story by ; cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto; editor: Elliot Greenberg; music: Fernando Velázquez; cast: Chris Messina (Detective Bowden), (Mechanic/Tony), Jenny O’Hara (Old Woman), Bojana Novakovic (Young Woman/Sarah), Bokeem Woodbine (Guard/Ben), Geoffrey Arend (Salesman/Vince), Jacob Vargas (Ramirez), Matt Craven (Vito Lustig), Josh Peace (Detective Markowitz), Joe Cobden (Dwight, elevator mechanic); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Sam Mercer; Universal Pictures; 2010)|
fingerprints are all over this gimmicky supernatural thriller, that
comes with his usual third act twist."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Erick Dowdle
("Quarantine"/"The Dry Spell"/"The Poughkeepsie Tapes") efficiently
directs this not so bad/not so good supernatural thriller that he
co-writes with Brian
Nelson. It's based on a story
from the Night Chronicles project by Agatha
Christie mystery story and a far-fetched supernatural thriller like
Larry Cohen's God Told Me To (1976). Unfortunately it doesn't make much sense,
is ultimately unconvincing and has more holes in it than Swiss cheese;
but it kept me interested throughout mainly because of the stunning
photography by Tak Fujimoto and that I couldn't resist wanting to know
how far we were going with this hokum.
Philadelphia office building during the day.
The investigators are
Philadelphia detectives Bowden
(Chris Messina), still not fully recovered that his wife
and kid were killed by a still on the loose hit-and-run driver five
years ago, and his loyal assistant Markowitz (Josh
Peace). While there they learn of a stuck elevator between
the 20th and 21st floors with
five people trapped inside and turn
their attention to that incident.
Strange things happen, as a mysterious wound appears on one of the
stuck riders and soon they start picking on each other and then
seemingly picking each other off one by one. Bowden learns the five
passengers all have serious character flaws: The smarmy mattress
(Geoffrey Arend) was involved in a Ponzi scam, the hostile temp
security guard (Bokeem Woodbine) has an arrest record for assault, the
attractive young lady (Bojana Novakovic) is a blackmailer who married
the head of the building's security company, the suspicious mechanic
job applicant and former marine () who fought in
Afghanistan left his canvas bag of tools in the bathroom, and the
grouchy old lady (Jenny O’Hara) is a mystery person who is caught on
the lobby camera as a pickpocket and didn't sign the sign-in book in
the lobby and possesses an expired can of Mace that doesn't work.
The two security guards who
manage the video tape of the elevator occupants are the level-headed
Lustig (Matt Craven) and the religious fanatic Ramirez (Jacob Vargas),
who believes the devil is responsible for these crimes and warns us
from time to time that the devil can take many
forms. Detective Bowden's
theory is that there's a killer in the elevator with a motive to make
it look like a serial killer in action when he's only after after one
specific vic. Of course, in this silly film, Ramirez's devil theory
turns out to be the logical one-- that one of the riders is disguised
as the devil.
Shyamalan's fingerprints are
all over this gimmicky supernatural thriller, that comes with his usual
third act twist. But since he's not directing it, the film manages to
be surprisingly watchable, fairly entertaining and its schlocky
execution turns out to be a great benefit to its sketchy religion-themed plot of Old
revenge and New Testament forgiveness.
REVIEWED ON 9/23/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ